How do I stop the misuse of my trade marks on social media sites?


The internet has become an effective tool for brand marketing and there are many benefits to promoting your goods or services via social media.

The increasing number of users signing up to social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram mean that business owners are able to reach a wider consumer base. If you start an account or “page” on any of these popular platforms, you get to engage with your followers via comments and share information about certain products. Basically, you allow followers to become brand advocates.

Unfortunately, there are two sides to every coin and with the benefits come negatives; trade mark infringement is a major issue on social media websites.

As a brand owner, you have different potential courses of action against an alleged infringer on social media, including:

  1. Reporting the infringement directly to the social media website, and/or
  2. Sending a cease-and-desist letter to the infringing party, with a view to commencing litigation.

The quickest and most cost-effective action to take is to report the activity to the site. Some social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, have developed procedures to report trade mark infringement and provide trade mark owners with a mechanism for removing infringing use of a business’ trade mark from their social media site. This typically entails the trade mark owner or its agent informing the social media provider of the registered trade mark right and clearly identifying the infringing activity. The social media provider will then consider the matter and remove the infringing activity if it believes it is proper to do so. For this reason, it is important to have a registered trade mark prior to filing a complaint with a social media provider.

Some social media providers have a similar mechanism for removing trade mark logos and other images if there is likely to be copyright infringement. Again, the copyright owner or its agent is required to inform the social media provider of the offending image or trade mark logo.

Click here to report Facebook trade mark complaints.

Click here to report for Facebook copyright complaints.

Click here to find out more about LinkedIn’s trade mark policy.

Click here to find out more about Pinterest’s trade mark policy.

Click here to report a trade mark issue on Twitter.

While this can be a good place to start, prevention is often less expensive than dealing with the problem after infringement has occurred. Since it can be difficult to enforce IP rights on social media, particularly when the identity of the infringer can be unclear or unknown, it is wise for brand owners to have a strategy in place for protecting their trade marks.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us shall you have any questions on the above.

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